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Monday, June 6, 2011

Pre-Trip Tips

Behold Tonggu Momma's Pre-Trip To-Do List. And yes, y'all, most of this is now completed. I just have to tie up a few loose ends and actually pack the suitcases. (Everything is staged right now, and I know it will all fit because I already checked last week.)

Stock up on cleaning supplies, laundry soap, paper goods, pet supplies, dry goods (this makes shopping go so much faster; plus these items tend to be bulky, which is difficult to cope with when a little one is sitting in the cart).

Cook and freeze many dinners (soups, spaghetti sauce, anything that freezes well).

Clean out the fridge a day or two before travel.

Make arrangements for a pet sitter and/or house sitter.

Make arrangements for someone to stock the fridge with perishable groceries (dairy, bread, fruit and vegetables) one day before you are due to arrive home.

Complete all childproofing chores, especially the gates.

Stop the mail and newspaper delivery if your house will be empty.

Make arrangements for a ride home from the airport,if needed - either have someone pick you up (remember you need the car seat) or dropping off your car that day and leaving a cell phone message as to the parking space location.

Purchase extra stamps from the post office.

Install the car seat and take care of any routine maintenance (such as oil changes, air in the tires, etc.) and fill up the gas tanks.

Contact the bank to order new, large denomination bills for the cash needed.

Call your credit card companies to announce the dates of your international travel in case you need to use your card while overseas (otherwise they may cancel your card, thinking the charges are fraudulent).

Weed the garden several days before your trip (NOT the day before, because who wants to sit still on an airplane for 15+ hours with sore muscles!). This way your yard won't look completely horrific when you return. Also mow the grass one day before your trip, and make arrangements for a service or teen to mow the grass while you are away.

Create personal information cards to hand out to other adoptive families you meet, with name and email address, and possibly one's blog address as well.

Complete all adoption paperwork forms, including the notarized affidavit of your commitment to vaccinate your child.

Organize forms in two clear plastic folders; the first folder should contain only documents necessary for the adoption process, while the second folder contains your itinerary, tickets, instructions for using your child carrier, a list of western doctors in the cities you will be traveling to, etc..

Purchase gifts for the orphanage workers/ foster family and the SWI director.

Schedule an appointment with your child's pediatrician for one to five days after returning home.

Scan copies of all adoption-related documents or forms onto a flash drive. Password protect the file, and store in a separate location from the adoption paperwork hard copies. That way you won't be completely in trouble if your documents are lost or stolen.

Rewash all bed linens so that you will return home to clean sheets.

Create a list of "must-have" photographs so that you know what you'd like to shoot ahead of time. Include live action shots, still lifes and scenic photographs on your list.

Wash all new baby dishes and bottles.

Print out addresses of family and close friends onto adhesive labels so that you can just peel and stick when sending postcards from China.

Create the packing list, downsizing as needed.

Purchase a plethora of medications, for both children and adults. Also obtain any required prescription medications you will need on the trip. Try also to gather prescriptions for scabies, traveler's diarrhea, airsickness (if needed) and a general antibiotic for both adults and children.

Remember the money and administrative forms.

Purchase snacks for the travel day out.

Be sure to place the address of the hotel you will first stay at inside your carry-on bag. When you are getting ready to land in China, you will have to fill out a customs form while still on the airplane. On that form, you must write down the address of your hotel.

Make a list of questions to ask the caregivers on the day you meet your child (or on the following day). You think you will remember what questions to ask, but you won't. Write them down and leave plenty of room for note-taking.

Bring more zip-loc bags then you think you will need, as they are a great way to organize within the confines of a single hotel room. Also bring extra space-saver bags in case the closures break or the bags rip.

What else, y'all?


Aus said...

You're in pretty good shape.

Cell phone - do you intend to carry it in China? If so - advise your servcie provider that you need global roaming - usually about $5.00 for the month. The air time will be expensive - but you can turn it on maybe 2X per day and if you see you have voice mail can use Skype to get your messages.

Activate and TEST your skype account before you leave.

Make sure you have a couple folks configured as blog admin's to help you out from state side if there's a problem posting or some other 'issue'.

One other thought - we made ID cards to carry except when traveling or doing 'official' things like the actual adoption. Make a color copy of the demographic page of your passport and your China visa. Cut them out and then laminate them together into a card (kinko's or someplace like that can help). Then when you get to the hotel lock your passport in the safe and carry the cards only. US passports are 'valuable' to the underground and have RFID chips in them now. These served us well a year or so ago - even allowed us to change money at the hotel etc (probably not at a bank) - and we felt better knowing all the passports and travel docs were locked away!

Can't wait to see you guys on the way!

hugs - aus and co.

Emily said...

Make sure you write your name, flight details and landing destination on a sheet inside your suitcase.

This can be useful if all the labels that are stuck to the outside of your suitcase come off (as happened to us on an international flight), it makes getting your case back much easier as they only have to cross reference it to your passport.

Hope the trip goes well.

The Byrd's Nest said...

Oh my...I am totally exhausted just reading that list:) Praying for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jennifer said...

Your list sounds fantastic! I'll be writing these down for our trip...hopefully next spring. :)

LynnieB said...

We used a Panda Phone while in China as adding International Service was pricey (this was 2 years ago). The panda phone cost us $75 for the whole two weeks (and we picked it up and dropped it off at our hotels so it was convenient) Sure did come in handy when we missed our flights in Guangzhou) - We used Skype to call home.

Awesome list by the way. Last bit of advice. Try and get some sleep before you leave. You'll need it. ( I know you know that :)

sara said...

Bandaids and neosporin. And maybe a couple of the water bottles that have the filter built in so you always have access to something to drink.

I can't think of anything else. SO exciting!!

Gail said...

Sounds like you're ready to launch TM!!! This is an awesome list btw.

Semi-feral Mama said...

A headlamp flashlight for hands-free, night time childcare or general searching around in a hotel room while others are sleeping. I got a cheap one at Target that also had a red-light setting which was great because I didn't blind my kid as I was trying to change his diaper and he was staring at my head. Of course they make great toys, so you should probably take a couple.

molly said...

earplugs!! :)

The Drinkwaters said...

Arrange for a family member or neighbor to bring by a meal the first day (or even better, leave it in your fridge for you just before you get home). Something easy that just needs to be heated up and requires no thinking.

Lay a clean set of PJ's on the beds, so all you have to do it get changed and collapse!

Maybe set up a play pen/play yard in the master bedroom so if the baby needs to sleep in the same room it is already done, and easily packed up later if it is not needed?

Mike and Sharon said...

Amazing List! I wish I had it 5 years ago when we brought our son home from China. But I'm so happy to have it today as we await our TA for our daughter in Beijing. Thank you.

Johnny said...

Go to Costco and buy lots of Marie Calledar's Chicken Pot Pies. I should know, I still have a frozen one in my freezer from 4 years ago!

Panic! Panic! Panic! For God's sake it's your rite! I mean your right!

Marla said...

Looks great, and YES, Ziplocs rock!! SO excited for you TM, this has been a long time coming and I'm thrilled it's finally your turn!!

Aus said...

Oh man - forgot a couple things that the other comments reminded me of!

flashlights - the litte 3 AAA cell LED jobs - you can find them for $1 each at lots of places - one for everyone on the flights - and one in each suitcase too (they break easy) - makes reading when everyone else is asleep easy - and for finding stuff on the plane - priceless!!

Copies of your passports in each suitcase along with the destination hotel info. We put the destination hotel info on seperate sheets - and discarded each page as we arrived at that hotel to save confusion if the bags were lost - and on one occasion - our one of our bags 'caught up' to us in China.

Cross pack each suitcase (except for the flight home) - that way if any single bag gets lost no one with be bingo everything!


hugs - aus and co.

michelle said...

i don't have any more packing tips but just wanted to say that i'll be thinking of you and your family in the coming days. wishing you smooth travels and all good things!

Carrie said...

And take a deep breath and say, "everything is going to work out just fine." Lost suitcases, forgotten meds, misplaced papers... whatever might come, it will all work out. Yay for a big adventure! I have been mostly absent from bloggy-land these last few weeks, but I have not stopped following yours. And I look forward to reading all about your journey as you go.

PS: One thing that hasn't been mentioned, but I'm sure you probably know about... facebook, youtube, blogger, etc. are all blocked in China. You need a VPN if you want to access it easily while there. Those are easily purchased/installed on laptops in advance.

PPS: After living there for 3 yrs, I learned that there are very few things that you flat-out can't get while there. So, don't stress too much about taking something for every. possible. contingency. Your back will thank you when you are trying to lug around your luggage in decidedly unfriendly luggage places. :)

Holly said...

set up an email to blog mode so you can publish text and pics to your blog through your email account and test it before you go. You probably have a private not listed on this blog website where you will put full face pics and journal etc. for Mei Mei and most of those kinds of places are accessible there but blogger is most definately NOT without a good VPN. Sometimes even WITH a VPN familes cannot access FB or blogger. I never could see my own blog or others while there. It is only 2 weeks, it flies by and you will be VERY distracted :)
Blessings as you go. We had less than 2 weeks notice when we were I600 with Josiah's adoption from TA to leaving on a jet plane! You can do it! :)

oneinchofgrace said...

You are so organized - that's amazing! I'm sure you'll have a smooth trip.

Suzy said...

Only thing our travel group had any trouble getting was deodorant. So make sure you take a new, full bottle, can, stick of whatever you like to use. Happy trails to you, TM!

Aus said...

Isn't today departure day? If not - well it must be soon! Just in case you don't get to post prior - fair winds and following seas on your travels - looking forward to your gotcha day!

hugs - and great joy -

aus and co.